Wild cliff-enclosed valley
On many of the domes of ‘sandstone there rest bowlders of a different character, which have evidently been brought from the mountains toward the northeast. The summit of the island is about 800 feet above the level of the sea, and, like its sides, is polished and striated. The terraces on the mountains of the mainland show that the glacier which formerly flowed out from Disenchantment bay must have been fully 2,000 feet deep. The bed it occupied toward the south is now flooded by the waters of Yakutat bay. At the time of Malaspina’s visit, 1.00 years ago, the glaciers from the north reached Haenke island, and surrounded it on three sides.* At the rate of retreat indicated by comparing Malaspina’s records with the present condition, the glaciers must have reached Point Esperanza, at the mouth of Disenchantment bay, about 200 years ago ; and an allowance of between 500 and 1,000 years would seem ample for the retreat of the glaciers since they were at their flood. Reaching the topmost dome of Haenke island, a wonderful panorama of snow-covered mountains, glaciers, and icebergs lay before us. The island occupies the position of the stage in a vast amphitheatre ; the spectators are hoary mountain peaks, each a monarch robed in ermine and bidding defiance to the ceaseless war of the elements. How insignificant the wanderer who con-fronts such an audience, and how weak his efforts to describe such a scene! From a wild cliff-enclosed valley toward the north, guarded by towering pinnacles and massive cliffs, flows a great glacier, the fountains of which are far back in the heart of the mountains beyond the reach of vision. Having vainly sought an Indian name for this ice-stream, I concluded to christen it the Dalton glacier, in honor of John Dalton, a miner and frontiersman now living at Yakutat, who is justly considered the pioneer explorer of the region. The glacier is greatly shattered and pinnacled in descending its steep channel, and on reaching the sea it expands into a broad ice-foot. The last steep descent is made just before gaining the water, and is marked by crevasses and pinnacles of magnificent proportion and beautiful color. This is one of the few glaciers in the St. Elias region that has well-defined medial and lateral moraines. At the bases of the cliffs on the western side there is a broad, lateral moraine, and in the center, looking like a winding road leading up the glacier, runs a triple-banded ribbon of dtaifis, forming a typical medial moraine. The morainal, material carried by the glacier is at last deposited at its foot, or floated away by icebergs, and scattered far and wide over the bottom of Yakutat bay. The glacier expands on entering the water, as is the habit of all glaciers when unconfined, and ends in magnificent ice-cliffs some two miles in length. The water dashing against the bases of the cliffs dissolves them away, and the tides tend to raise and lower the expanded ice-foot.